Mental Health in Later Life
It will come as no surprise to learn that the great majority of Newbury Mobility’s customers are over the age of 60. This is, of course, the classic time when our mobility begins to become compromised and we start needing some help to get from A to B.
And while Newbury Mobility supplies equipment to assist people with their physical needs, what we don’t supply is anything to assist with mental or psychological need. But we do frequently witness the symptoms of it.
Mental Health is, thankfully, a topic which these days can be discussed openly and freely without fear of being ridiculed or scorned. To an extent, we have to thank for this a number of high profile celebrities who have had the courage to talk publicly about their own mental health issues, helping to raise awareness and improve understanding of this condition which, for those who suffer it, is no picnic.
For those of us of more mature years – which includes some of us at Newbury Mobility – this relatively enlightened attitude was not necessarily around when we were younger. Many will recall how any sort of Mental Health problems were regarded as something that was, literally, all in the mind. And that if we were only to pull ourselves together and show a bit of backbone, then all would be well.
Over the years, we have come to understand a great deal more about the causes of different kinds of Mental Health problems and how best to lessen their impact. While the topic is a very broad one, I wanted to concentrate on two particular elements that can particularly affect older people – anxiety and depression.
It is an irony that at an age when we should be looking forward to our retirement and winding down to a slower, more relaxed pace of life, our bodies and our minds have a tendency to thwart us. We want, to take a quick jog to the shops but that dodgy knee is saying no. We don’t want constantly to worry about how we’re going to pay the bills, but our pension never seems to stretch very far.
Anxiety and depression are often inextricably linked, the first frequently leading to the second. And, when one is getting on a bit, there are many different ways they can be triggered including:
- Losing a partner
- The onset of a physical disability
- Loneliness and isolation
- Lack of independence
- Loss of your job through retirement
- Loss of your home
- Loss of friends
- Looking after a disabled spouse or partner
Now, the fact is that we all feel fed up from time to time. So how can we tell the difference between being down in the dumps and being properly depressed?
Well, there are a number of warning signs:
- Persistent sadness that just won’t go away
- Constant fatigue and lack of energy
- Losing interest in hobbies or pastimes that you used to enjoy
- A reluctance to socialise or leave home
- Persistent insomnia
- Feelings of worthlessness and/or self-loathing
- Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Fixation on death; suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Constant feelings of anxiety
- Neglecting your personal care
If any of these symptoms persist for a long time or begin to have an effect on the way you think and behave, then it’s time to seek help and advice.
Don’t, whatever you do, feel reluctant or ashamed about talking about it.
GPs are very clued up about Mental Health these days and are able to offer many different ways of helping. Yes, there are drugs that can help, but there are also a number of different therapies available that can be of great benefit.
In addition, just talking about it to friends and family can be of enormous benefit. You may well be surprised by just how many people tell you how they too have suffered from some aspect of poor Mental Health.
So are there any measures we can take to prevent anxiety and depression taking hold in the first place?
There sure are.
- Exercise – OK, you’re not as fit and active as you once were, but even small amounts of exercise can be a really effective way to prevent or tackle depression. There are also exercises you can do even if your mobility is quite badly impaired. There are some good ideas here.
- Socialise – Sometimes when we’re feeling down, the last thing we want to do is get out and mix with other people. But if you can get over that “hump” it can sometimes be the thing that lifts your spirits immeasurably. Can’t get out? Then invite people to come to you. Even speaking to people over the phone or using something like Skype can be of benefit. You also might want to consider joining a depression support group. They’re not for everyone, but some people find that they can be of enormous benefit.
- Get enough sleep. Sometimes one of the symptoms of depression can be insomnia. Which is really rough. But if you’re not getting enough sleep just because you’re not getting to bed early enough, it can make you feel constantly tired and fed up during the day. Might sound a bit obvious but if you try going to bed a bit earlier, you might find that it makes you feel so much better.
- Eat well. Avoid sugar! And food and drinks that contain sugar! Eat food that provides you with good nutrition. You might want to take a vitamin supplement as well. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make.
- Get a pet. Dog, cat, pig, python. Doesn’t matter really. Pets are a classic and proven way to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression.
Finally, remember this – depression is not a normal part of ageing and it’s not something that you should feel that you just have to put up with. There are many, many ways of fighting it and winning so that you can properly enjoy your life during those later years.
When I said earlier that we don’t supply anything to assist with good mental health, perhaps I was wrong. After all, stairlifts and other mobility equipment help you to remain independent, allow you to stay living in your own home, help you to socialise and can give you back your dignity.
So, if not being able to go upstairs is getting you down, give us a call. We’re always glad to hear from you and there are many ways in which we might be able to help to brighten your day.
We look forward to hearing from you here at Newbury Mobility.
All the very best
Andy and the team